Archive for August 29th, 2011

Charges officially dropped against government MLA

| 29/08/2011 | 53 Comments

(CNS): Prosecutors officially dropped assault charges against Bodden Town backbench MLA Dwayne Seymour Monday when he appeared in Summary Court in connection with an altercation outside a Seven Mile Beach Hotel last year. Seymour and his friend, Joseph Minzett, had been charged with assaulting an American fitness trainer who was visiting Cayman to see Seymour’s estranged wife. Seymour was also charged with the more serious count of perverting the course of justice in connection with the same case but was acquitted by a jury following a Grand Court trial in May. (Photo Courtesy Cayman27)

Following that verdict, the crown had indicated it would be unlikely to pursue the assault charges against the politician as the director of public prosecutions had said it was not in the public interest.

The Bodden Town UDP representative was accused of being involved in a fight with the man, whom he believed was having an affair with his wife, outside the hotel after he had heard he was on island. During the trial Seymour had denied starting the fight and denied telling a security guard who said he witnessed the fight to keep quiet about the incident.

Speaking to Cayman 27 on Monday outside the court house after learning that the case against him had been officially dropped, the MLA said he was relieved and had always been surprised at the charges as he had been the one that had wanted to press charges against Yap, whom Seymour claimed at trial had started the fight.

“It’s just so hard being charged in something like this when I was the one who pressed the charges against someone, and it was chosen to press charges against me by the police,” Seymour said. “It’s very unfair, but there is a god and we’re all answerable to him. And so thankful for all the supporters who supported me and prayed for me – and just stuck by my side. All my friends and family and you know it’s a wonderful day and put it behind me now and get on with the business of the country.”

See Cayman 27 video of Seymour at courthouse.

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No analysis over road move

| 29/08/2011 | 89 Comments

(CNS): A freedom of information request submitted to the National Roads Authority asking for the business case model and traffic analysis regarding the proposed closure of 2000 feet of the West Bay Road revealed that no studies have been done on the move. Ezzard Miller asked the NRA for minutes of the board meeting where the issue was discussed and for any reports, research or analysis they had that would demonstrate the need to close the road, justify the move by government and assess the potential impact. However, the NRA told Miller that while the extension of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway formed part of its long term traffic plan, no study had been done on closing the West Bay Road.

Miller said recently that he was surprised by the revelation as he understood it was normal practice for some kind of business case to be made before major traffic changes are made. According to the redacted minutes that were given to the independent member for North Side, the issue was discussed by board members only once at a board meeting on 14 June this year. The minutes revealed that the proposed closure was discussed at a meeting between the ministry, Dart and the NRA and then passed to the board, which voted to approve the move and recommended that the Esterly Tibbetts extension be gazetted to Rev. Blackman Drive.

The road closure has raised some controversy as it involves swapping Crown land (public property) as part of a deal with Dart in order to allow the developer to create an ocean front resort on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott.

Government intends to swap the crown land in exchange for the cost of the Esterly Tibbetts extension in to West Bay, a revamp of the existing public beach, an additional public beach further north along the West Bay Road, land in Barkers for a National Park, cash for community projects and more land in West Bay for Grace Christian Academy to build a new school.

The land that government will be giving to Dart in exchange for this swap-list, however, will increase the value of the developer’s land significantly and make the resort a much more profitable venture. Dart has said that without the change to the road layout the current derelict site would never be an attractive proposition for any developer to renovate.

The road currently dissects the hotel footprint from its beach front and in the past guests staying at the hotel were forced to cross the busy road in order to reach the beach. At the new resort planned by Dart the West Bay Road will be diverted behind the new resort on to the Esterly Tibbets bypass from Governor’s Way to Yacht Drive. The 2000 feet of road will be closed and Dart will use the land to develop a new a larger public beach, its own beach front resort and bicycle/pedestrian pathway along the ocean front. 

The premier and his Cabinet have stated that the move is a good deal for the Cayman people as not only will Dart be swapping a considerable amount of land in return and paying for the new extension, which government cannot afford to fund, it will also begin developing a desperately needed new four or five star hotel, boosting the tourism product in the long term and creating jobs in the short term.

Miller and the opposition members have, however, questioned the value of the deal as they say it will boost the value of the property purchased by Dart significantly. Miller said that local real estate agents are estimated that the worth of the land could be increase from the $30 million that Dart has reportedly paid for the land to more than $100 milllion.

Opposition member and former roads minister, Arden McLean, has  also raised a number of questions about the closure and noted that the problem with the extension of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway if the West Bay Road is to be close is the access back onto the original road. He says without proper access, all West Bay residents will be forced to go to Batabano or traffic problems could be created where drivers try to rejoin the coast road.

Local activist groups in West Bay are also concerned about future access to the beach along West Bay Road as so much has been lost to developers over the years. They also have concerns about the amount of land that is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of just one developer.

Nevertheless, government has considerable support for the venture from other parts of the community as a result of the promised boost to the local economy that the project and the total deal with Dart, known as the ForCayman Alliance, is expected to bring.

Alongside the West Bay Road projects, the proposal includes Dart’s commitment to capping and remediating the George Town landfill and developing a new modern waste-management facility in Bodden Town. Under the deal Dart is also committed to developing more of Camana Bay, in particular the residential elements of the town, which the developer says will create further employment opportunities and boost the domestic economy.

Bush recentlystated that the negotiations between government and Dart were on-going and he would be pushing to get more out of the investment alliance for the Cayman people before signing the main agreement, but whatever the outcome, he said, the deal was a positive move for the whole country.

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Clifton Hunter to open in March says minister

| 29/08/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The education minister said last week that the first of the new government high schools will finally open in March 2012 in the middle of this school year. After years of controversy, contract disputes and political rhetoric the first of the state of the art schools envisioned by the previous minister will should be operational before Easter. Rolston Anglin said once the school has been completed, the ministry will liaise with teachers and parents to plan the move with minimum disruption to students. The Clifton Hunter is one of two new secondary schools that became a political football between the government and opposition the second is the new John Gray campus has since been put on hold.

At present pupils who will attend the new campus are already divided from those students attending John Gray High School and are currently using the George Hicks site which will eventually become a technical school.

Speaking at the orientation session for the new academic year on Friday Anglin outlined his ministry’s priorities. He updated the teachers on the $10million primary school project, which is already underway, and promised much-needed additions and upgrades. He did not mention whether money expected to come from Dartas part of the deal between the developer and government would replace or be in addition to the $10million set aside in the budget for the primary schools revamp.

Challenging teachers to do better,  and offering to continue the support in professional development  he said other strategic aims included a focus on literacy and numeracy, new graduation requirements, a national campaign that celebrates achievement, professional standards for teachers, targets for school achievement and a national strategy to gather education data that will track individual student progress.

The minister also pointed to “employability” which he said would come under the spotlight this year with plans to expand vocational education, strengthen career advice and implement a work readiness programme, Work Keys, in all high schools, the minister revealed.

Meanwhile, the latest new recruits into the teaching profession were taken on “Cultural Caravan” last week when the new teachers took in a tour of the museum, the National Gallery, Pedro St. James and the Nurse Josie Solomon Senior Centre, located beside the Mission House in the heart of Cayman’s first capital, Bodden Town.

The centre is a treasure trove of artefacts, photographs, arts and crafts as well as recreations and depictions that highlight Cayman’s heritage and heroes. The teachers also got to taste traditional Caymanian food and a chance to explore the grounds and examine native plants.

Spearheaded by the National Museum, the programme ensures that the 29 new teachers do not begin functioning in Cayman in a cultural vacuum. The minister said in order for educators to make meaningful contributions in “it is imperative for the teachers to get a good grasp of what makes us Caymanian.”
 

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Restaurants encouraged to put lionfish on menu

| 29/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The local effort to cull and contain the invasive lion fish currently threatening reef life across the region is gathering pace especially as more and more local chefs are placing the tasty marine treat on the menu. Stephen Broadbelt owner of Ocean Frontiers demonstrated to ten top restaurant owners this past weekend how the fish can get onto their menus. He explained that the divers and spear-fishermen have been specially trained by the Department of the Environment to cull the fish using a DoE issued spear and they can then deliver the marine booty to chefs on demand. (Photo Lennon Christian)

Broadbelt explained that chefs, while wearing gloves can remove the spiky, venomous top, bottom and dorsal fins with kitchen shears• Once finless the soft scales can be scraped away and the fish gutted in the normal way as the fish itself is not poisonous.

He explained that restaurants can help in the goal to destroy the predatory Lionfish before they are big enough to reproduce by serving them up on local menus and encouraging the community to acquire a taste for the succulent white fish.

Broadbelt said local divers are also encouraging sea life to also add the lionfish to their diets by feeding them to moray eels, snappers, nurse sharks and groupers and encourage them to develop a taste for the finned marauders and hopefully join in the cull. So far over 5000 fish have been bagged by trained divers this year and the need to stop them reproducing continues a single fish can produce two million eggs annually.

CITA has a number of ongoing lionfish efforts including seminars and hunts as well as dive safaris and cooking demonstrations. For more information contact info@cita.ky or the DoE at 949 8469 or DoE@gov.ky

 

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Forbes makes Cayman history with semi-final place

| 29/08/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Local hurdler Ronald Forbes made history today when he became the first Caymanian to compete in a 100m hurdle semi-final at the sport during the World Athletics Championships. The North Side native finished 3rd in his opening round heat on Saturday, with a time of 13.54 seconds, enough to secure him a place in the line-up for Monday’s semi-finals in Korea. However, dreams of making the final were dashed when Forbes came in sixth in a time of 13.67 seconds. The final itself was marked with controversy when Olympic champion and world record holder, Dayron Robles was disqualified after coming in first.

According to the IAAF website a protest by China on behalf of Liu Xiang, who appeared to be impeded when Robles strayed to the edge of his lane, was upheld. Robles who was first across the line in 13.14, was disqualified, handing victory to Jason Richardson, who followed in 13.16.

Liu, who came in 3rd with a time of 13.27 was moved into the silver medal spot and Andrew Turner of Britain took the bronze in 13.44.

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A very muscular brand of Christianity

| 29/08/2011 | 2 Comments

(The Guardian): When you hear the name Jesus, is the first image that comes to mind a dewy-eyed pretty boy with flowing locks? If so, think again. After 2,000 years, the Messiah is getting a makeover. This time he's less "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" and more of a kick-ass action hero – a Chuck Norris in sandals. No more cissy Kumbaya stuff. In this testosterone-fuelled theology, the Saviour finally has the rippling biceps he would have developed as a carpenter from a working-class home in Nazareth. The macho Jesus movement has been bolstered by books like No More Mr Christian Nice Guy and The Church Impotent – the Feminisation of Christianity. 

But it's artist Stephen Sawyer, whose paintings of the Son of God as a tattooed biker and boxer have captured the imagination of Christian men searching for a more manly role model.

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CUC looks for green energy

| 29/08/2011 | 35 Comments

(CNS): Grand Cayman’s sole power supplier is inviting proposals from qualified parties to supply up to 13 megawatts (MW) of sustainable energy. CUC has put out an invitation for “expressions of interest and proposals” for the financing, construction, ownership and operation of renewable energy generation facilities. The firm said Friday that it has been monitoring the status of several alternative power sources for over a decade but the cost had “prohibited adoption”. Given the current cost of oil prices, however, alongside advancements in renewable energy in technologies, the firm said it believes that there are vendors in the market now that can provide greener power that may provide savings to the customer.

“Renewable energy could provide several benefits to Cayman, including lower emissions, price stability, and perhaps lower cost. CUC is hoping to identify viable Renewable Energy projects by the end of 2011,” the power firm said in a release.

The request for preliminary proposals was circulated last week and CUC is seeking expressions of interest from entities with a track record in financing, designing, constructing and operating comparable size renewable energy generation projects. CUC said it will evaluate proposals on both technical and financial merits, with 70 percent based on the ultimate price of generating the alternative energy.

“It is envisioned that the Investor would become an Independent Power Producer (IPP) that will enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with CUC for the supply of electricity from the alternative energy generators,” the invitation states and explains that the successful partner will need to secure a generating licence from the ERA.

CUC said that feasibility studies for any energy source being proposed are the responsibility of the IPP but CUC has 12 months of wind study data from two locations that will be made available to qualified investors.

The need to find an alternative to the current situation of Cayman’s total dependence on diesel has been a long time coming. CUC had asked for invitations to tender back in 2008 with the goal of establishing a wind farm. Despite going some way down the road with that project, efforts were thwarted when the most suitable location for the turbines was identified in East End but was also selected as the site for government’s Doppler radar, bringing the two projects into conflict.

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Judge finds directors negligent in Cayman fund

| 29/08/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): In what is being described by local legal professionals as a landmark judgement the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands has, for the first time in the context of a failed investment fund, found two directors guilty of wilful neglect. In a ruling delivered Friday the judge ordered that the two directors pay the liquidators, who brought the proceedings on behalf of the failed investment fund, Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund, US$111 million in damages. The court found that the directors' conduct fell well below what was required of them and were said to have not taken any meaningful role in the business of the fund, merely signing documents which were put in front of them.

Like many Cayman Islands investment funds, the directors enjoyed an indemnity under the terms of the Fund's constitutional documents covering all losses, but it doesn’t cover the two men for losses which were found to be down to the directors' own wilful neglect or default.

Local lawyers Ogier, who represented the official liquidators, David Walker and Ian Stokoe of Pricewaterhousecoopers, said the landmark decision confirms that although Cayman Islands investment funds may be structured differently to traditional corporate entities, the fundamental duties owed by a director of a Cayman Islands investment fund are the same as those duties owed by a director of any other corporate entity.

"The case shows that directors of Cayman Islands investment funds cannot sit idly by, leaving the management and control of the fund to its service providers. A director's duty to supervise the affairs of the company, and to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence are non-delegable,” said Shaun Folpp, Managing Associate at Ogier Cayman, who, together with Will Jones Associate, acted for the successful plaintiff led by David Lord QC.

“Directors of Cayman Islands investment funds can no longer live under the misconception that they are immune from liability for a company's losses if they do not themselves take an active role in the company's business," Folpp warned.

In his ruling the judge said directors Hans Ekstrom and Stefan Peterson had consciously chosen not to perform their duties in a meaningful way, signing documents without reading them, applying their minds to the content or making any enquiry about the fund “whatsoever”. The judge stated that they never once asked for a written report or attended a board meeting in the six years of the fund’s life.

The fund was incorporated in April 2003 and the directors were both close family members of the principal investment manager, Magnus Peterson, who appointed them. One was his elderly step-father, who was 85 when he gave evidence in the trial, and the other was Peterson’s younger brother.

The judge said that while on paper the two men had appropriate credentials to act as directors, with the benefit of hindsight it was “difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mr Magnus Peterson chose to appoint his relatives as a means of meeting the minimum legal requirements without burdening himself with a real board of directors,” that would have supervised the fund in a businesslike manner.

See full judgement here.

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Bolt’s false start prompts review of rule

| 29/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s minister of sport, led the clamour for change, slamming the ‘one strike and out’ regulation which prompted the downfall of her country’s national icon as “crazy”. Even some prominent voices within the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) were left conceding privately that the idea of billions watching the instant disqualification of the sport’s one greatest superstar felt like a case of athletics once again lancing itself in the foot. IAAFofficials will be discussing the matter at their Council meeting, although that would be too late for the rule to be changed before the end of the championships.

Not only Bolt but two top British athletes, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu (in the 400m heats) and Dwain Chambers (in the 100m semi finals) fell foul of the ‘sudden death’ regulation on the opening weekend.

"It’s a crazy rule," said sports minister Grange, who had flown to Korea to watch the race. “The message has been sent that they need to revisit this ruling."

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Defence lawyer says parents couldn’t see gunman

| 29/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The eyewitness evidence given by both of Jeremiah Barnes’ parents is of no value, a lawyer argued in his closing speech on Friday as he answered the crown's case against Devon Anglin (left) for the shooting of the four-year-old child. John Ryder QC said that neither Andy Barnes nor Dorlisa Ebanks really saw the gunman at the Hell gas station that night but both made assumptions about who it might have been. He said that Barnes was describing the killer “as he thought him to be” but not, the lawyer said, as he really was. He also said that Dorlisa had no time to make a proper identification of the man who shot at her family because she had ducked down to take cover as soon as he opened fire.

“The shock and speed (of the shooting) was intensified by the fact that the gunman was wearing a mask,” Ryder told the court in the trial as he made his closing presentation to Justice Howard Cooke on behalf of his client, 26-year-old Anglin from West Bay.

He pointed to the antipathy between Anglin and Barnes and suggested that the father of the 4-year-old victim had jumped to conclusions on the night of 15 Feb 2010.

Ryder told the court that when Barnes ran into the police station minutes after his child had been shot and killed, he had shouted “they killed my youth” in the first instance and only later had used Anglin’s name. According to the statements submitted in the case by other witnesses, Barnes had punched a man in the face at the police station that night because, Ryder said, it was one of the men with Anglin at Batabano a few weeks earlier when, according to Barnes, Anglin had threatened to kill him.

The QC pointed to the evidence of the gas station attendant, whom he described as a reliable witness with no reasons to give anything other than accurate testimony. The lawyer said he was the first person to see the gunman emerge from behind the rear of the station and he had told the court that his face was completely covered from the first moment he saw him with what he said was a Halloween mask.

Ryder said that the evidence of the child’s parents was unreliable as the incident took only 8 seconds and they described someone they knew and whom they assumed was the killer.

“There is a risk of assumption on the part of the witnesses based on a predisposition,” Ryder said, adding that there were inconsistencies in, and discrepancies between, the evidence given by Jeremiah’s parents, as he told the judge the evidence was of no value.  He added that this was particularly illustrated by the fact that Barnes had described the clothes that Anglin was wearing earlier the same day when he had passed him rather than the clothes that the gunman was wearing when he gave he gave his statement to the police only hours after the incident.

The defence attorney told the court that he agreed with thejudge's thoughts voiced previously that if he consider the eyewitness accounts of Dorlisa and Andy “worthless” none of the crown's other evidence could support it.

With the gunshot residue at risk of contamination, the CCTV analysis and the clothes of no probative value, he said there was no other solid evidence against his client. The lawyer noted that while two teenage girls placed Anglin in what was believed to be the getaway car sometime after the shooting, there were three people in that car that night but at the time of the murder witnesses spoke of only two.

Ryder said that there was more than enough doubt in the case against Devon Anglin for the judge to acquit his client.

As the defence finished the closing speech, the judge commended both counsel for their work in the trial and revealed that he would be handing down his verdict on Wednesday afternoon.

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